Whether you are a home or business owner, pests often pose a huge risk to the human activities taking place within your premises. Amongst all the pest species, termites are considered the most harmful and destructive in urban environments. In fact, termite damage to properties can cost substantial investment in repairs and renovation.. Besides, termite infestations are largely not covered by insurance. What’s more, termite problems may ruin your home aesthetics with the cracks and mud tubes, thus adding more rectification expenses unless treated with a professional termite control solution.
To make matters worse, there are three termite species that cause varying levels of damage to your properties. As such, in this article, Rentokil has put together a list of essential termite information that home and business owners should know in order to better protect their premises from them. This includes knowing how to differentiate between the three species, spotting signs of a termite infestation, and effective termite control methods.
Understanding Termite Behaviour
The first thing that you should know about termites is that they eat cellulose, an organic compound that is found in most plant species, wood, and their byproducts such as wooden furniture. The second thing to know about them is that they are eusocial animals. This means that they have an advanced social organisational structure that consists of a caste that produces the offspring while the other non-reproductive castes work together to care for the young. As such, a typical termite colony will have:
- A termite king and queen – They are in charge of producing offspring for the colony. They are dark brown in colour. The queen may sometimes have a larger abdomen than the king and can lay up to 40,000 eggs per day in mature colonies.
- Worker termites – Cream in colour, they build the nests and tunnels and look for food. They also make up the largest percentage of the colony (up to 90 percent).
- Soldier termites – Armed with a larger head and powerful mandibles, they defend the colony from predators. While they are also cream in colour, soldier termites can be differentiated from worker termites by their brownish-red heads.
- Swarmers/alates – These are brown flying termites that leave the colony in search of new locations to start their own colonies. Male and female alates will pair up, and once they have found a suitable location, they will discard their wings and become the king and queen of the new colony.
Due to the above division of labour, each termite caste has very specific roles that do not overlap with each other. For example, a soldier termite is solely in charge of defense and will not forage for food or lay eggs. In addition, termite eggs take around 26 to 30 days to hatch into nymphs, meaning that an infestation will happen rapidly. As a result, specialised termite treatment often includes treating all castes in order to fully eliminate an infestation.
3 Termite Species That Home & Business Owners Should Know
Now that you understand how termites typically behave, it is time to learn about the 3 termite species that are the most likely to cause harm to homes and businesses. They are dampwood, drywood, and subterranean termites.
Firstly, similar to their dampwood counterparts, drywood termites live completely within the wooden structures that they eat. As they don’t require as much moisture as dampwood and subterranean termites, they can infest ‘dry’ wooden structures as well. Secondhand furniture and untreated wood carry a high risk of a drywood termite infestation.
Secondly, drywood termites can be distinguished from other termites by their frass i.e. termite droppings. As they do not use their droppings to build their colony, drywood termites will push them out of their nests. Thirdly, they are small oval-shaped pellets that can range from white to brown in colour (depending on the type of wood they eat). Their frass forms small mounds outside the structures that they infest and can often look like salt and pepper. Finally, if you happen to see such mounds around your wooden structures, it is likely that you are experiencing a termite infestation. Seek professional termite control programmes to resolve your termite problem.
As their name implies, subterranean termites are typically found underground in the soil as they require constant contact with moisture for survival. They are the most common termites in Singapore and are responsible for most of the infestations that occur in residential and commercial buildings. Subterranean termites construct mud tunnels out of the soil, saliva, wood, and droppings. These tunnels can extend aboveground, along building foundations, and into wall cavities.
If you spot long brown lines of mud around your building, it means that you have a subterranean termite infestation. They travel along the mud tubes above ground seeking for more food supply. Termites can travel sideways as well, and hence, procrastination in seeking termite treatments can accelerate the infestation severity. As subterranean termites grow and build their colony, a professional termite elimination programme can help protect your home from further damages while eliminating the colony.
As they need a high level of moisture to survive, dampwood termites prefer nesting in damp areas. For example, the soil in the home gardens, and wet wooden structures such as fences, furniture, and support beams. They can also sometimes nest in wall cavities near leaking pipes, roof gutters, and poor drainage systems. Their diet consists of damp or rotting wood. Unlike subterranean termites, they do not build mud tunnels. They live inside the wooden structures that they are eating. Hence, it is important to ensure you have facility and landscape maintenance in place. For instance, trim shrubs, remove mulches, discarded rotten and infested woods. Remember to eliminate moisture by keeping the place dry and fixing any leaks.
Termite Control Solutions
As you may have noticed, termites nest underground and within wall cavities of buildings. They are sensitive to sunlight, and so, they need to avoid it as much as they can. Termite infestation can go on for years while you remain unaware and cause extensive damage in the meantime. That’s why DIY termite control methods have limited efficacy and it will be in your best interests to engage a professional pest control company as they have specialised termite treatments to successfully get rid of them from your premises. Some damages caused by termites including:
- Cracks and damages on the wall and structure
- Weakened stability and possible structure collapse
- Presence of unsightly mud tubes and frass (droppings)
- Possible allergies resulting from the droppings
- Mal-functioned of doors and windows frames
- Costly renovation, repairs and replacement
What you need to know about termite control services?
Firstly, a termite specialist will need to perform a site survey at your home to identify termite species and infestation location. Secondly, pest control experts will utilise tools and technology to detect termite activities accurately. Thirdly, solutions will then be recommended to best suit your premise. For example, you will have options of termiticide injection or placement of above and in-ground termite baiting units. Fourthly, scheduled inspection and monitoring is critical to ensure no recurring pest issue or spread of infestation. Finally, termite control in Singapore is not just the reliance of the treatment but adhering to diligent housekeeping as well. Termite control experts will recommend useful termite prevention tips such as lesser use of wood and cellulose, keep place dry and remove rotten wooden structure. Get the first step by adopting a termite inspection for your home, as early detection can minimise impact, damages and investments.
Rentokil Singapore offers a range of expert pest control services for homes and businesses! Call us at 6347 8138 for a pest control solution today.